The Luxury of Iggy
*Photo via USA Today
Andre Iguodala played a tremendous Game 1 for the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night and will be an essential piece for them moving forward in these NBA Finals.
The former All-Star and team USA gold medalist is now coming off of the Warriors bench, a role he had never played in his previous ten years in the league. Fortunately for this Warriors team Iguodala is embracing the sixth man role while supplying his team with terrific defense and experience.
Iguodala has always been regarded as one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA. While in Philadelphia, he was usually tasked with guarding the opposing team's best player, so guarding LeBron James this series is nothing new to him.
Iguodala's defense in Game 1 was better than what the numbers indicate. Although James scored 44 points on 18 for 38 from the field, he only shot 4 for 14 when Iguodala was his primary defender.
At 6'6 and 210 pounds, it would seem as if Iguodala is too small to stay with the world's best player, however his coach, Steve Kerr, credits Iguodala as being one of the smartest defenders in this league. Iguodala is able to play angles in order to cut off where James wants to go, despite being two inches and 40 pounds less than James.
On the offensive end, Iguodala helped chip in providing the Warriors with 15 points off the bench, including two big dunks and two key three-pointers. That is the luxury of having Iguodala, a former star in this league coming off of your bench.
For Iguodala to be effective this series and ultimately lead the Warriors to their first championship in forty years, he must immediately come off of the bench and defend. Offensively, although he hit two of three his three-point attempts in Game 1, he isn't shooting very well in these playoffs. Any offense from Iguodala is likely to come in the form of transition baskets.
Having a former All-Star and gold medalist accept the role to come off of the bench for this Warriors team is testament to how much of a team player Iguodala is, and also how together this Warriors team is. If Iguodala is able to be as effective as he was in Game 1 on both the offensive and defensive end, this might be a very short series headed in the Warriors favor.